Eviction even in Death – The Reality of Bihar’s Dalits

The caste-based atrocities and injustice of Dalits of Bihar dipped a new low this year, as even the community’s dead are being evicted from their final resting places. This cold-hearted act has unearthed many graves, much to the misery and shock of the Dalits of the area. This incident was brought to light by Reena Devi, a widow in the hinterlands of Bihar in May 2015. 

The soil from the cemetery of Dalits in the Saraiparauli village of Bihar was excavated under the orders of the village head, to build roads in the area.

When Reena went to pay respects to her husband Badnath’s grave, she was shocked to find clothes his clothes strewn across the cemetery. Like Reena, many Dalit families are a victim of this horrific act. “We have been using the cemetery for five generations for cremation and burial. But the Mukhiya (village head) got the cemetery land cut,” alleges Manghu, an affected resident. “We want the land to be measured and demarcated,” says Gyanti Devi, to ensure that the cemetery is not encroached again.

The Dalits of Saraiparauli have been fighting to get the soil of their dead back for a year. They have lodged complaints with the Mukhiya, the Block Development Officer and the Circle Office but no action has yet been taken in effect of their demands.

“Our voice have been ignored by our society for decades, like we are not even humans. Even after going through legal procedures, our demands and requests for the cemetery continue to be ignored ,” Gyanti states angrily.

This heartless incident is unfortunately only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to injustice meted out to Dalits across Bihar and India. According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) 2015 data, crimes against Scheduled Castes in Bihar increased by 43% from 2014. Sadly, a similar picture emerges from the data compiled by National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) that shows an almost 40% increase in the incidence of crime against Dalits across India between 2011 and 2014 (the data for 2015 and 2016 is yet not available) .

While we look towards becoming a nation with ‘Smart Cities’ and are geared to be a developed nation in the 21st centuries, we continue to be slaves of the centuries-old feudal mindset. Our countrymen fought off the colonial rulers 69 years ago, but incidents like these and the Una Dalit flogging show how we are still so attached to cultures and mindsets that promulgate an unequal, unjust society.

The Dalits of Saraiparauli need your help to get the rights of their dead. Call the Circle Officer of the area on +91-9835498775 and fight for their rights today!

This video was made by a Video Volunteers Community Correspondent Gyanti Devi.

Community Correspondents come from marginalised communities in India and produce videos on unreported stories. These stories are ’news by those who live it.’ they give the hyperlocal context to global human rights and development challenges. See more such videos at www.videovolunteers.org. Take action for a more just global media by sharing their videos and joining in their call for change.

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